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How To Electro-Etch a Solid Metal Plaque
Sponge + Ferric Chloride Method -- Etch PCBs in One Minute!
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Some portion of it could be, but the bulk is probably mostly oxides of copper and tin. I mean lots of brass etched, vs a little bit of stainless dissolved.You could use a test (some strips are >30$) if you are just trying to find out if you are making the carcinogenic genotoxin Chrome(VI).I would just assume that all elctrochemical solutions are toxic. Actual businesses doing electroetching/milling/plating can be legally quite a bit more polluting than your home shop could achieve, so this is really an exercise in being a good citizen/neighbor. Regulations for wastewater of electro-finishing businesses in the US appear to not care about the chrome content till you are pushing more than 10k gallons of water a month or more than .58mg/l. *I am neither a lawyer nor a business consultant so your experiences with the law may vary. - MakerIan
Thanks for this! Have you tested salt water on bronze? I have read that it does not work on bronze, so am curious if you've tried it. Thanks! - tkip
Well if the sacrifice screen is dissolving in the action its probably safest to assume the chrome is being liberated and this material should never go into the water table. When you are done with the liquid either dispose of it at a proper facility(preferred) or let it dry out to powder and store the solidus in a sealed container. This is safer than the liquid but should still make its way to a hazmat disposal facility.What I would expect is happening is the tin and copper are depositing in a "sponge" structure which is delicate and will fall off. CuO is red and deposits in soft layers. If the screen itself is actually dissolving away slowly the chrome has to go somewhere. What % is hexa chrome(VI) or is still chrome(IV) I wouldn't be able to tell you, but I treat any electrochemical solution as hazardous just to be on the safe side (of the law). - MakerIan
Amazing info, thank you. (I'm unreasonably excited to have found someone who knows what they are talking about with this stuff.) :) I think you are correct about the tin and copper collecting in a soft layer, as it flakes off when removed and dry... but the stainless is also definitely eroding away. There is a black sludge in the bottom of the Cupric Nitrate after several etches, which I strain out and remove using mask/gloves/goggles, etc.; and I have never put the stuff down the drain, I've been collecting it in paper towels and storing in a kitty litter jug until I could take it to hazmat because I dont know what it is... Do you think this black sludge could be hexa chrome? - tkip
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Thanks very much it was very useful!
Thanks for this :) I'm growing flower seeds and the seedlings are happily now re- planted into a pot and going well.
Want to let you know that I did actually get a much better etch than I thought before I cleaned off the resist. It took two hours, but the voltage was low, and the salt solution had been used before. I mixed up a new batch of salt water today, much more saturated, and got a new charger. I'm going to try it tomorrow with higher voltage. I want to clad small gift boxes for the children for Xmas. I always bite off more than I can chew. Maybe only my two grandkids will get them this year. Anyway, the flashing I bought from Lowes is thin and cheap, so I can experiment. The only expensive part is the p&p blue. They are worth it, though!Want to say thanks!I
No, I'm afraid I don't. I have never had issues with aluminum.Try upping both salt concentration and power and see if it helps.You can of course just run it longer, but you run the risk of the metal getting eaten out from under the mask (this is called "undercutting" when you are etching with electricity or chemicals).
OK, I tried again last night, and kind of got an etch. Not very deep at all. I think I have to increase either the salt in the solution, or the power it's getting, or both. Any ideas?
I had scrubbed the heck out of that piece before I tried. Today, I bought a roll of aluminum flashing from Lowe's and cut a piece of that. I sanded it, then scrubbed it with Dawn to get rid of any oils. I'm now applying the resist (P&P Blue), and I'm going to give it another try tonight. I'll let you know how it turns out.Thanks so much for your reply and help!Connie Carufel
I have used this process with great success on copper and brass, but when I tried exactly the same process on aluminum, I got nothing at all. Do I need a different salt solution for aluminum?
Hi CVC...You can use this technique with all metals including aluminum, using the same salt solution and power.One of the first projects I did with this was the embossing die I made that we used to put a raised TechSHop logo on the very first gift certificates we sold. Those are probably collector's items now...we have been open 10 years as of this Saturday Oct 1, 2016! (Be sure to come to our open house party if you read this message in time and you live near any of our 9 TechShop locations in the US!)Anyway... I suspect that your aluminum is either: o Anodized o Coated with plastic or lacquer or some coating o Heavily oxidizedAll these conditions will make the surface non-conductive, and electricity will not be able to pass through the metal's surface.The best way to check this is to see if the surface you are trying to etch is electrically conductive. You could do this with a digital multimeter, a battery and a lightbulb or LED, or even just take your two electroetching power leads and touch both of them quickly on the surface of the aluminum and see if you get a little spark.Anodized aluminum is actually a layer of aluminum oxide formed on the surface of the aluminum, then treated usually with an acid and other chemicals to harden it, and then usually dyed with an aniline dye.If you find that the aluminum is not anodized or coated, it could be just really oxidized, which will make it non-conductive. Aluminum is very hungry for oxygen, and bare clean aluminum surfaces will oxidize very rapidly. If you think this is the problem, try sanding the surface so it is bright shiny aluminum and try your etch on that.Good luck! Please post here and let us know what happens.
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Wow! My iPhone 6 blocks the IR on the main camera, but sure enough the front-facing camera can see the IR light. Cool!
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That was incredibly easy, my first "printed" PCB (I've done a lot using nail polish 30 years ago). My printer didn't like high quality photo paper so I printed on newspaper.
Rapid bubbling means you are disassociating water. I use 5v from a pc power supply for my etching. I like to use an electrode that is as large or larger than my etch target. Things like proximity, solution concentration, total amperage all make a difference on etch speed. My setup is basically a copper grid electrode that sits 2 inches(5 cm) from the target face. I also use copper sulfate as my electrolyte, but I only process copper materials.Also, for those in the US anytime you do electrochemical etching or plating your waste water is epa regulated. Stainless steel is particularly bad as the electro-etching converts the chome to hexavalent chromium which is nasty nasty stuff and should never be put down a drain.
Hi Cameron G17...Yes, I'm "positive" about that' ;)Actually, I did a demo one time and hooked it up backwards, and all the stencil elements that I had carefully cut out of vinyl sheet instantly popped off and floated into the salt water when I connected the power.I'm not sure what the problem is with your setup. Does the battery have sufficient charge (check the volts, should be close to 14v)?Also, check the polarity with your digital multimeter to be sure the car battery isn't charged backwards or the wire colors are switched or something weird like that.Maybe try a different piece of metal for the sacrificial metal.Let me know what happens...thanks!
Are you sure the + goes on the piece to be etched? I had it hooked up to a car battery for about an hour and got only a few bubbles from the stainless on the -. When i reversed the wires the knife i was etching started bubbling quite rapidly.
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Too uneven - killed my traces.This was with a MG Chemicals 1 oz copper photo resist board. Some areas with minimal resist did not get etched away, while some of the traces now have breaks in them. Back to the slow & reliable way...
Works very good although the problem with my particular print was that my tapes' seams were in the wrong place and that's where the lifting occurred. The slurry minimized the lifting but the tapes' seam was right on the edge of my model so lifting occurred either way. Wouldn't have noticed how severe the problem was with the seam being at that particular problem spot (the other parts of the model away from seams had no lifting). Thanks!
Perfect Screw Alignment for Screw Mounted Equipment
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